Originally appeared in the December 1912 issue of Poetry magazine.
A heave of afternoon light pulls a tulip from the turf, a bower for locusts, a cup of shells. The farmhouse tilts, a bent shadow on wheels. In cedar rooms a family is molded, silent, wrapped in the wire of steel eyes and stopped voice, romantic ash. This is not my house, my ghost, my uninvited guest, my lost labor of love, my thicket or grease, my JPEG gessoed or rawhide suit. The yellow light throbs like an internal organ — soft body of an overture to insect sounds — sapling of a new world — whose future awaits me at the tilting window of my own domestic hut.
Transfixed to the, by the, on the congruities, who is herself a vanishing point coming to closure — dusky flutter — trilling away like a watchdog on drugged sop, channeling her mother and grandmother who’ ve engraved on her locket phrases in script: “glide on a blade” and “rustling precedes the shuck.” This is not my teeming fate, my rind, my roiling ellipsis or valedictory spray of myrrh.
West a business breast, North a morose jig, East a false
escape, South steam in milk.
North the great cat, East the great water, South the great
fire, West the great arrow.
East the uneager fingers, South the damp cave, West the
chained ankle, North the rehearsed cry.